Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Trial and Temptation (Mandrake Company#2) by Ruby Lionsdrake

Science Fiction Romance

From Goodreads:

After ten years of flying freighter ships from planet to planet, Val Calendula never thought she would apply for a job as a combat pilot in a mercenary outfit. But her brother has gotten himself into financial trouble, and he’s heading to a mining prison if Val can’t pay off his debts. Mercenaries don’t always live long... but they make good money while they’re alive. A few combat bonuses, and Val could earn what she needs. The problem? She might have graduated from the military flight academy, but she hasn’t fought anything more dangerous than dust bunnies on the bridge lately. To make matters worse, the man in charge of hiring pilots was her instructor back at the academy. Commander Thatcher was almost as brilliant as he was arrogant and condescending, and he never seemed to think Val was smart enough to be there. She has no idea if she’ll be able to convince him otherwise now... or if she’ll be able to stand working with him.

When Gregor Thatcher left the military, he never expected to run into any of his former acquaintances, much less the one he admired and mooned over during his two years teaching at the academy. Back then, he never told Val Calendula he cared for her, partially because officers weren’t supposed to have relations with cadets, but mostly because he didn’t know how to speak of his feelings. He might not have any trouble grasping navigational mathematics and astrodynamics, but people are more problematic. Gregor is elated that Val has entered his life again, but he’s fairly certain she hates him. Worse, he’s responsible for deciding whether she’s qualified to be a combat pilot. How can he judge fairly when his tongue tangles and idiotic words come out of his mouth whenever she’s around?

When the captain sends Val and Gregor on a mission to pick up a military advisor and deliver him to a planet at war, Val hopes she’ll have an opportunity to prove herself capable of the piloting position. Gregor hopes he’ll have the opportunity to improve Val’s opinion of him. But when the military advisor goes missing, and they’re forced to divert to a dangerous moon base, the mission turns into a fight for survival. Val may learn too late that there’s more to Gregor than that aloof exterior… and that inside is a man she could love.

Trial and Temptation is a full-length science fiction romance novel of 73,000 words. It is part of the “Mandrake Company” series and is recommended for readers who enjoy space-based adventure (such as Firefly) and steamy love stories (in the style of Linnea Sinclair).

I loved Mercenary Instinct and could not wait to visit the Mandrake Company again. Commander Gregor Thatcher was a side character in Mercenary Instinct (he got a small mention only) and Val Calendula is a brand new character in the series.  However, the two are not strangers. They met years ago when Val was a cadet and Gregor was one of her commanding officers.  Now both have left the military and are part of the Mandarke Company.

I think Gregor Thatcher is one of the best awkward male characters I have ever had the privilege to meet.  He is brilliant in his field but he just does not get small talk or how to relate to the people around him.  He tries so hard to appeal to Val and everything he says just comes out wrong.  For me that was his big appeal.  It takes being stranded in a very dangerous situation for Val to see him and appreciate him for the wonderful man he really is.  The two have to carry Trial and Temptation and they do a very good job of keeping things moving.  

As always in a series I would have liked to see more of the characters from book one but that did not keep me form enjoying adding Gregor and Val to the list of my favorite characters.  The fact that this is primarily Gregor and Val’s story means that it functions well as a stand along story.  I still recommend reading Mercenary Instinct first and after you finish these two you can move on to book three The Assassin’s Salvation.

Amazon Digital Services published Trial and Temptation by Ruby Lionsdrake in 2014.

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